Through various causes a
serious change has taken place in the population of the parish within recent
years. The general depression in the industry of agriculture has naturally
had its effect. The cost of living has remained high while the price of
stock and produce has seriously declined. The young people have gone to seek
more remunerative employment in the homeland and in the Colonies. "I'his has
left the older people to struggle alone to maintain homes and steadings.
Hence there is naturally a serious decline in the birth rate.
Apart from the land there is
no local industry. Few follow the fishing as a distinct calling, and fewer
combine fishing and agriculture. They find it a better policy to devote
their whole time to their land and live stock.
This suggests a serious
problem. In order to make the rearing of stock pay and maintain a household
in comfort an extension of grazing would he needed, but the estate has none
to give. There is much land, suitable for such extension, in the adjacent
deer forest. There seems to be no reasonable excuse for continuing such land
for the sport of a few while as an extension of grazing it would benefit the
There is little hope of an
increase in the population in the immediate future except by a return to a
more intensive cultivation of the land, and a more general use of homegrown
and home-cured food. The latter is one of the available means by which the
Highland people can retrieve their economic and social position.
If we were brave enough to be
characteristically Highland, as our fathers were, grow our own corn and
grind it, rear and kill our own meat and cure it, spin and weave our own
wool and wear it, we should be a healthier and a happier people. If we
could, by our industry, clear away from our tables such things as Swiss
Milk, Danish Butter, Irish Eggs and Foreign Bacon, by providing an adequate
supply of our own, we should be on the high way to success. If after
supplying our own needs, we sent our surplus wherever it could find a
market, a rising tide of prosperity would flood our Highlands.
Such things should not sound
impossible. Our young people are open-eyed and active, ready to embrace such
opportunities as come their way. They are not likely to neglect the wealth
lying about their feet while looking vainly for that which lies across the
seas. What they need is a lead in co-operative production, marketing, and
transport, to snake the Highlands and Islands the market supply of Scotland.
The land is poor, the climate is changeable, transport is difficult and
expensive, but a wide outlook, clear knowledge of passing conditions, and
regular industry, backed by persevering faith and hope can accomplish
The housing conditions have
greatly improved since the century opened. Fixity of tenure has encouraged
improvements on housing and steadings. Modern proprietors have encouraged
such improvements. Much still remains to be done to bring conditions up to
the standard demanded by health authorities. Slate has taken the place of
thatch for roofing ; wood has taken the place of clay and flag for flooring;
steadings are separated from the dwelling houses ; and an air of general
comfort has been given to the parish.
In the minister of the
parish, the Rev. John Macaskill, the people have a warm friend and a wise
guide. He was inducted as colleague and successor to Mr. Finlayson in 19o5.
Since then he has been assiduous in his endeavours to promote their
interests in temporal as in spiritual matters. For many years he was
chairman of the School Board, later he became Vice-Chairman of the Education
Authority, and is now Chairman of the Educational Committee of the County.
He is also a member of the County Council, and Chairman of the District
The duties of those public
offices require much time and thought, yet he never forgets that he is the
pastor of Kinlochbervie. He systematically attends to the sick and poor, and
preaches on an average of from three to five times every week. In the work
of the ministry he is supported by a Kirk Session composed of men of deep
spirituality and of practical experience of the needs of the people. In the
Autumn of 1930, the parish church, having become vacant through the death of
Mr. Crarer, the congregation unanimously and cordially united with the late
United Free Church under Mr. Macaskill's ministry.
The education of the parish
is in capable hands. Miss Fraser, a native, is headmistress of Oldshore
School, while in Inshegra School, Mr. David D. Todd, M.A. is headmaster,
with Miss D. Morrison as assistant. Both Schools have, in recent years,
obtained excellent Annual Reports from H.M. Inspector, fair proof of
satisfactory work. Miss Jessie MacLeod teaches in Achlyness, and Miss Mackay